Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Jun 28, 2008; Section:Faith; Page Number:4C

Professor to perform at church


    ELIZABETHTON — Dr. Robert Hamblin, a professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, will present “Preacher in Overalls: The Story of Clarence Jordan and Koinonia Farm” at 11 a.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 119 W. F St.

    Jordan (pronounced Jurden), a legendary Baptist preacher who died in 1969, and his wife, Florence, founded Koinonia Farm, a communal, biracial fellowship near Americus, Ga., in 1942. The group was subjected to years of violence and threats from the Ku Klux Klan, but the farm survives today as both a working farm and a religious center promoting peace, inclusiveness and nonviolence.

    Jordan is also well-known as the author of “Cotton Patch Gospels,” a translation of the New Testament into the Southern vernacular.

    Jordan and Koinonia Farm heavily influenced Millard and Linda Fuller, the founders of Habitat for Humanity, as well as President Jimmy Carter.

    Hamblin’s Chautauqua-type impersonation of Jordan includes both the history of the farm and excerpts from Jordan’s sermons and books.

    Hamblin credits his attendance at a Missouri Chautauqua program for stirring his interest in developing the Jordan program. “My entire family enjoyed Chautauqua immensely, and I thought it would be fun to portray a historical character in that fashion,” he said. “And I’ve been a huge admirer of Clarence Jordan for a long time.”

    Hamblin is a professor of English and director of the Center of Faulkner Studies at SMSU. During his 43-year career, he has directed seminars for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Missouri Humanities Council; taught and lectured in England, The Netherlands, China, Taiwan and Japan; taught a Faulkner novel over the Internet to Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club.

    He has authored or coauthored 18 books, including “A William Faulkner Encyclopedia” and several other scholarly works on Faulkner; a book on college basketball, “Win or Win: A Season with Ron Shumate”; and three books of poems.

    Admission to the program is free and the public is invited.